Weight Loss And Sleep Apnea: What You Need to Know? Update 05/2024

When you’re asleep, your breathing can be interrupted by a condition known as sleep apnea. An upper airway that is too small or closed can cause obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the most prevalent form of the disorder. To put it another way, it’s like inhaling air through a tube or a straw. Those who suffer from severe OSA may experience as many as 30 episodes of interrupted breathing during the course of a single night.

Several critical linkages between obesity and sleep apnea are emerging as the medical community learns more about the condition. Obesity can intensify the symptoms of sleep apnea and exacerbate the disease’s harmful consequences on one’s health in addition to causing it. It’s a never-ending cycle if you don’t get enough sleep and then gain weight. Many studies have shown that weight loss helps sleep apnea, which is encouraging. There are a lot of variables that come into play when you’re dealing with sleep apnea and obesity.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder in which you repeatedly stop breathing while you sleep. Depending on how long you hold your breath, it might be anything from a few minutes to a few seconds. However, even though it is not usually life-threatening, sleep apnea can have a substantial influence on your health and well-being in the long run. Sleep apnea has been linked to a higher risk of heart attacks, according to numerous research. You might be asking if this disease can be treated in any way. When it comes to sleeping disorders, you may have heard that decreasing weight can assist. What’s the truth?

Sleep Apnea And Weight

Obesity and sleep apnea have been found to be closely linked in studies. In fact, being overweight increases your risk of developing such a problem. Even so, not every fat patient will experience sleep apnea. In the same way, not everyone with sleep apnea is obese. However, if you’re overweight, you should undergo a physical exam to make sure you’re healthy. Determine whether or if weight loss is an option for you. The neck circumference is typically measured as part of this process. Sleep apnea is more likely to occur in men with a circumference of 17 inches or more and women with a circumference of 16 inches or more.

The importance of weight loss

The connection between obesity and sleep apnea is well documented. Having a lot of excess tissue at the back of your throat might cause your airways to become blocked while you sleep, which can lead to snoring.

Getting in shape is much easier said than done, yet it is possible to see actual progress in this area. Sleep apnea and other health issues (such as heart disease) can be eliminated if overweight and obese people shed weight. Sleep apnea symptoms can be alleviated by a 10% weight loss. It’s possible to treat some illnesses by dropping a lot of weight.

How Excess Weight Causes Sleep Apnea

OSA is most commonly found in people who are obese, however, it can occur in people with a variety of health issues. Pharyngeal fat is a type of neck fat that develops as a result of a person’s weight gain. While sleeping, pharyngeal fat can obstruct a person’s upper airway. One of the most common signs of sleep apnea is loud snoring, which is caused by air being squeezed through a narrowed airway.

Additionally, a person’s chest wall might be compressed by extra fat, reducing lung volume. As a result of the decreased lung capacity, the upper airway is more prone to collapse as you sleep. With an increasing BMI, which assesses one’s body fat based on height and weight, the risk of OSA continues to rise. If you gain just 10% of your body weight, your chance of OSA goes up six-fold.

Toxic tonsils, physical traits like big necks or small throats (together with other conditions such as diabetes and thyroid disease), acid reflux, lung ailments, and heart difficulties are also less prevalent causes of sleep apnea. However, around 60% to 90% of persons with OSA are obese.

Can Sleep Apnea Cause Weight Gain?

A growing body of evidence suggests that the relationship between being overweight and having OSA is not one-sided. There may be an increased desire for calorie-dense foods due to sleep loss, as leptin (an appetite-suppressing hormone) is lowered and ghrelin (an appetite-stimulating hormone) is elevated. Overeating, obesity, and decreased fat loss during calorie restriction are all linked to sleep deprivation, according to research.

OSA patients tend to be more prone to weight gain than those without sleep apnea who have the same BMI and overall health. One study found that OSA patients gained an average of 16 pounds in the year before they were diagnosed, compared to BMI-matched individuals who did not have OSA at the time of their diagnosis.

Those with sleep apnea may also struggle to maintain a healthy weight due to a lack of energy. A typical sleep apnea symptom is daytime tiredness, which is caused by a lack of restful sleep. Sleep apnea sufferers may be less active throughout the daytime if they are more tired all the time. Obese persons, who are more likely to have shortness of breath and chest discomfort as a result of physical exertion, may be particularly affected by this. Weight gain can occur if a person’s diet and exercise habits are not altered.

Health Effects of Sleep Apnea and Excess Weight

Patients with sleep apnea put their cardiovascular, metabolic, and pulmonary systems under a great deal of stress since they don’t get enough good sleep. Obesity increases the risk of heart, lung, and metabolic disease, thus this could be especially concerning for those who are already at risk.

Sleep Apnea and Cardiovascular Health

Many aspects of a person’s cardiovascular system might be affected by sleep apnea. A “fight or flight” response is triggered in the body whenever there is a gap in breathing. A jump in blood pressure and pulse rate causes the sleeper to wake up and reopen their airway when this reaction occurs. This cycle continues all night long. Increases and decreases in blood oxygen levels can trigger inflammation, which can lead to atherosclerosis (a buildup of plaque in the blood arteries), which is linked to heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure. Atherosclerosis can be fatal.

Carbon dioxide and glucose levels rise, the nervous system part controlling heartbeat and blood flow is disturbed, insulin resistance is increased, and oxygen and carbon dioxide flow is altered when a person has sleep apnea. There are numerous health issues that can be caused by the lack of sleep, including heart, lung, and metabolic issues such as the following:

  • a condition is known as hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • Arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation, are serious medical conditions.
  • The failing of the heart.
  • Infarct and transient ischemic attacks (TIAs, sometimes known as “mini-strokes”).
  • Angina pectoris or heart attack.
  • Diabetic type 2
  • Metabolic disease (obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and dyslipidemia).

Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome and Sleep Apnea

People with obesity hypoventilation syndrome (OHS) are more likely to have sleep apnea (OSA) (OHS). OHS is a condition in which a person’s lungs are compressed because of the pressure exerted on their chest wall as a result of their extra weight. About 90% of those who have OHS also have OSA, although not all OSA sufferers also have OHS. Obesity-related heart disease (OHSD) is more common in people with a BMI over 50, with prevalence reaching over 50%.

If you have OHS, you run the risk of having high blood pressure and heart failure, as well as having less oxygen in your blood and more carbon dioxide. Both of these disorders increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in patients. OSA patients with severe OHS are at a greater risk of death than those with less severe OHS.

Can Losing Weight Cure Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea treatment begins with lifestyle and behavioral changes, just like treating many other conditions. Working for healthy body weight is a top priority for the majority of OSA patients. It is possible to have limited airways due to fatty deposits in the neck and tongue if you are overweight. As a result, the airway is less prone to collapse during sleep because of increased lung volume and better traction of the airways.

Many OSA-related symptoms, including daytime sleepiness, might be reduced by losing weight. Irritability, as well as other neuropsychiatric disorders, are significantly reduced. Cardiovascular health, hypertension, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes are all on the mend, as is the quality of life. OSA severity can be reduced by 50% in persons with moderate obesity by losing merely 10-15% of their body weight. Many sleep apnea patients require extra treatment, even though weight loss can have a positive impact on their condition.

Does Weight Loss Method Matter in OSA?

Many OSA sufferers are confused about the best way to lose weight in order to treat their sleep apnea. Some of the most effective ways to lose weight include:

  • Dietary alterations
  • Physical exertion has increased.
  • Medications.
  • Surgery.

Obesity is often treated with a combination of food and exercise changes. Drugs or surgery may be considered as an option for obese patients who are unable or unwilling to make behavioral changes. The behavioral adjustment has been shown to be just as successful in treating OSA as some weight-loss operations. Even if you don’t lose a lot of weight, regular exercise has been shown to have a minor impact on OSA severity.

OSA improvement is inversely linked to weight loss, regardless of treatment method. A patient’s personal circumstances, overall health, and OSA severity should be taken into consideration when determining the best way to lose weight.

Will Treating Sleep Apnea Help You Lose Weight?

Weight loss may be easier for OSA patients who are able to keep their sleep apnea under control. After two days of CPAP treatment, the levels of ghrelin (a hormone that induces hunger) in OSA patients and those without the condition were comparable.

CPAP, the most effective treatment for sleep apnea, has been linked to weight increase in some studies, however. There is, however, a lack of understanding as to why this relationship exists. Overweight patients should not rely simply on CPAP therapy or apnea therapies to control their weight, given the complexities of weight and sleep apnea treatment.

Don’t Wait To Seek Care

Preventing injury and improving quality of life can be achieved by early intervention in sleep and weight. A great prognosis can be achieved with proper therapy for sleep apnea. And it’s never too early or too late to take an active role in your weight management. You should see a doctor if you suspect you have sleep apnea so that he or she can make an accurate diagnosis and recommend the best course of action.

Is It More Difficult To Lose Weight?

Sleep apnea is said to make it more difficult to shed extra pounds. This is because it causes your metabolism to slow down and, in certain situations, prevents you from losing weight at all. It appears that this is indeed the case, according to the findings of recent studies. That’s why tackling your sleep apnea should come first before committing to a diet and exercise plan to lose weight. In order to get the most out of this option, you’ll need the assistance of your ENT. Sleep apnea can be treated in a variety of ways.

Continuous positive airway pressure, more commonly known as CPAP, is the most often used. In most cases, a machine besides your bed is used to do this task. Because of the stress on your body, it may be more difficult to shed pounds if you have this illness. Increases in blood pressure and glucose intolerance are examples of this.

Weight loss surgery might sometimes be recommended by an ENT in order to make the process easier.

Alternate Options

Another option for treating sleep apnea should be noted. It is possible to buy a device that allows you to breathe frequently and ensures that your breathing does not become constrained. These kinds of masks, which are either electronic or pump-based, can be rather pricey.

Alternatively, you may want to consider surgery. Only a select few will be able to take advantage of this. There are several factors to consider while determining the best treatment for your sleep disorder. Whether or not this is the best option for you will be determined by your ENT.

Frequently asked questions on weight loss and sleep apnea

Sleep apnea can be caused by a variety of reasons, including obesity. It is possible that a few pounds of weight loss could help ease your apnea symptoms or possibly cure them. Sleep apnea and weight loss have been the subject of many of your queries.

Q: Can weight loss cure sleep apnea?

A: No, that’s the simplest response. Even though there are numerous ways to manage sleep apnea, there is no known cure. Obstructive sleep apnea is the only type of sleep apnea that can be helped with weight loss, therefore it won’t work for everyone.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), central sleep apnea (CSA), and mixed sleep apnea are the three kinds of sleep apnea. The most frequent type of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, accounts for 84% of all diagnoses.

An obstruction in the airway causes your lungs to become ineffective at delivering oxygen, causing you to stop breathing while you sleep. Some people find that the weight of their neck causes their airways to become obstructed as they sleep. A reduction in body mass index (BMI) may reduce airway obstructions and the ability of the airways to collapse.

Make an appointment with your doctor before embarking on a weight-loss program to discuss your weight-loss goals and any potential side effects.

Q: Can dieting help my sleep apnea?

A: Eating a nutritious diet is always a good idea, but it won’t improve your sleep apnea. Losing weight and maintaining a nutritious diet can help you lose neck circumference and lower the pressure required to keep your upper airway open. In addition to providing you with greater energy to engage in physical activity, eating a healthy diet can aid in weight loss.

Q: Can treating sleep apnea improve my type 2 diabetes?

A: Even while getting enough sleep is critical, it won’t help with diabetes management. If you have type 2 diabetes and suffer from sleep apnea, you should not stop using your prescription continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) medication until your condition improves. Consult your physician for guidance on the most effective treatment for your type 2 diabetes.

Q: If I think my sleep apnea symptoms have been reduced by weight loss, can I skip CPAP?

A: Sleep apnea cannot be cured by losing weight, but it has been shown to lower your chance of acquiring other health problems. Your doctor should be consulted before you discontinue CPAP therapy. Treatment for sleep apnea with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the gold standard and has been proved to effectively reduce symptoms.

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